Mummy Fanfic by Katie Sullivan
Rated PG-13 for innuendo, mild cussing and mature themes
Disclaimer: Meela/Anck-su-Namun, Imhotep, and all other characters besides Jeffrey are (c) Universal and are used without claim to copyright as a fan tribute. I maketh no money from this fic. Sueth me not.
Chapter Four: What Dreams May Come
Meela stared through the darkness at the discolored ceiling of her room in the inn. There had been a leak in the ceiling at some point in the past, but infrequent rains made fixing it a low priority. The walls were thin; she could hear the Curator snoring next door. Her bed was comfortable enough, she supposed. That wasn't the reason she couldn't sleep. Her mind was wide awake, in conflict with her exhausted body.
She rolled over, irrationally angry with her sheets, and buried her face in the pillow. Maybe she could smother the disquiet welling up in her mind. But no, all that happened was she cut off her own supply of oxygen, and the musty smell of the pillow made her feel like sneezing. She flopped onto her back and gave a deep sigh that expressed disgust with the entire world, including herself.
She wasn't going to sleep. That much was obvious.
She flipped on the lamp on the bedside table. Might as well make use of it, after she had to fight the desk clerk for a working light bulb. As the darkness fled, the ugliness of the room again became evident. That wasn't helping.
Keeping her mind purposely blank, she began to get dressed again. If she stopped to analyze what she was doing, she wouldn't do it. Her tired fingers failed to work the clasp on her necklace, so she left it on the table. She hopped awkwardly to force her left foot into her boot and stumbled to the door. There was no lock to worry about. The hallway was empty at this late hour. The street was almost as unpopulated.
This felt so familiar, too... Sneaking out in the middle of the night, hurrying toward the Temple of Osiris... The start of a smile faded away from her face. This time, Imhotep wouldn't be waiting for her.
The temple was deserted. Tourists had long since retired to their hotels. Even the pickpockets and drunks were elsewhere. The high pillars were silhouetted against the clear night sky, which in her eyes was suddenly full of ancient Egyptian constellations. Aside from distant music from a nightclub and a braying donkey down the street, all she heard was her booted feet on the cobblestones.
Like a sleepwalker, she meandered through the columns and empty, crumbling corridors to Imhotep's chambers. She didn't bother wondering how she knew the way. The door had rotted away, leaving an empty mouth of an entrance. Stars winked through the gap where the ceiling would have been. Only a red velvet rope stopped her from entering the dark room. That was easily put aside, and she carefully walked into the shadows.
"Imhotep?" she said quietly, not really expecting an answer. She didn't get one.
An overwhelming loneliness surged through her, and unexpected tears flooded her eyes. She didn't understand how she could be lonely for a man she hadn't met in this lifetime, but she was. She missed him.
She wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly cold. She had to find him. Wherever he was, whatever it took, she had to find him. For her own sake. For his sake. The drive to reunite with him was frighteningly strong, urgent and real.
Meela's knees failed her, and she eased down on the sandy floor, feeling her way in the dark. "I promise, Imhotep...I don't know how, but I'm going to find you again. I swear it in the name of Hathor, goddess of love." Her voice echoed in the stone chamber, confirming her words. "I will find you."
Fatigue swept over her like an ocean wave, and she curled up in the sand with her eyes closed.
The next thing she knew, a very irritated tour guide was waking her up, telling her to go somewhere else, preferably hell. He probably thought she was drunk or crazy. Maybe both. Mumbling apologies, she stumbled away and headed for the inn. It was still quite early, judging by the sun angle, but the marketplace was already bustling. She elbowed her way through the crowd. It was odd--what wasn't, lately?--but not unprecedented to fall asleep in the High Priest's chambers. An ironic smile crossed her face. She felt bolder, today, having verbalized her resolve. She would find Imhotep and figure out how to break the curse that had plagued them both for three thousand years. But first she needed breakfast.
Fortified with a meal of pancakes, greasy hashbrowns and bruised fruit, she returned to the temple with the Curator in tow. The same annoyed tour guide refused to let her conduct a self-guided tour. Even if he wasn't doubting her sobriety or sanity, he was understandably reluctant to admit a tousled woman carrying a pickaxe. She wasn't discouraged, however, since yelling, "Look! I recognize that statue!" wouldn't do anything to convince the Curator. She had other plans. Thus the pickaxe.
"Where are you going?" he asked, frowning as she veered off the street toward the river.
"Just watch," she said with a sly smile. Keeping a silence the sphinx would have envied, she carefully led him along the bank of the Nile until the noise of the city dwindled to a low hum. No crocodiles or hippopotami were in the way, and with nothing more than muddy shoes they arrived at a crumbled portion of the overhanging embankment.
"And what is this?" the Curator asked when it became apparent this was their destination.
"Watch and learn," Meela said, throwing aside her backpack. "And believe." She began hacking at the landslide with her pickaxe.
He gave her another of those looks that cast serious doubts on her sanity. She'd been the target of far too many of those lately. "And you hope to find what here?"
"I don't hope, I know I'll find a secret passageway that leads straight to Seti's palace. It was built to let him escape should anything untoward happen--not that a ruler descended from the gods themselves would need an escape route," she said with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Her face darkened further when she added, "Imhotep and I had planned to use this when we eloped, but we never had the chance..."
The Curator stood back in silence for a few minutes, watching her doggedly clearing away debris from the mouth of what was apparently an ancient tunnel. "You're really serious about this, aren't you?" he asked at length.
She didn't stop digging to answer. "I've never been more serious about anything in either of my lives."
He was quiet a moment longer, then sighed. "I'll go get a shovel."
She paused in mid-swing and grinned appreciatively at him. "You won't regret this." She slammed the pick-axe into the hill with renewed vigor.
"Time will tell..." he said over his shoulder.
The Curator pulled the watch from his pocket yet again. Meela shot him an annoyed and worried look.
"We really must be going," he said.
"No!" She swung the pickaxe into the wall in a movement that had become painfully familiar in the past day. "We're almost there, I swear!"
"Meela, I said you had one weekend. It's Sunday evening, the light is failing, and our boat leaves in an hour. You'll have to just admit failure and--"
"I will do no such thing! Another few minutes, and I'll break through!"
"This tunnel collapsed untold centuries ago. You can't just--"
Some deity took pity on her, and her pick broke through a crust of limestone, and she staggered forward with a yelp. "Aha! I told you so!" She dropped to her knees and wriggled through the jagged opening in the hillside. "Bring the lantern!" her muffled voice ordered.
Intrigued in spite of himself, the Curator obeyed. It was a tighter fit for him to squeeze through the opening, but once on the other side he was able to stand quite comfortably. He held the lantern high, peering with academic delight at the elaborate chamber in which they had emerged. Statues of the god Set lined the hallway, which was supported by ornate columns. Deep dust obscured the marble floor. Hieroglyphics covered the walls, decorating and informing with timeless grace. The Curator gaped and stammered, "This is...remarkable!"
Meela smiled smugly. "This is more than remarkable. This is Seti's palace. Buried under the sands, preserved like a time capsule. I told you so!"
"I...I..." he stammered.
"Now do you believe me? How else would I have known about this secret passage? How else would I have known where to dig? How else would I know so much about everything?"
The Curator inhaled a chestful of dusty, stale air and sighed. "I...I don't know what to say! This...!" He held the lantern closer to the wall and translated the hieroglyphics there, his lips moving silently as he read.
"It says, 'Palace kitchens this way.' You'd probably be more interested in this one," she said gleefully.
He carefully stepped over to where she was pointing, the lantern illuminating carvings that until that moment had not seen light for untold centuries.
She translated aloud with flawless pronunciation while his shaking hand followed along. "'May Set look kindly upon his glorious majesty, ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, Pharaoh Seti the First, living forever!' Don't you just love the irony of that last part?" She buffed her fingernails theatrically on her lapel and waited for the Curator to find his voice.
He stared at the inscription for several long seconds, then stepped back from it and her, regarding her with a look that bordered on fear. "You...you really are... You really did... You're..."
"You believe me now?"
He looked pale in the flickering lantern light. He nodded several times, quickly, and steadied himself with a hand on the wall.
She gave a smug smile and headed for the tunnel. "Good." Her aching arms were a small price to pay for seeing that look of stunned comprehension of his face. "Well, don't just stand there. We've got work to do!"
Still overwhelmed by the realization of who she really was, he merely stared at her dumbly.
"Imhotep's waiting for us...somewhere." She slipped back out into the light of day, and he scurried after her in sudden subservience.